Seeing the Light - Tips for Deaf or Blind Dogs

As your dog enters "the golden years," one of life's realities is that vision and hearing may begin to deteriorate. However, just because your pooch can't see or hear, doesn't mean those final years can't be a happy time for both of you.

A Little Extra Care Goes a Long Way

As your dog grows older, your role in keeping them happy and comfortable will begin to increase. More frequent trips to the yard to potty, a special diet and shorter, slower-paced walks are all normal. But what about when your canine companion begins losing his sight or hearing?.

Dogs are amazing animals, and still have many of the attributes that made their wild ancestors so successful in, well, the wild. As a dog begins losing a sense, such as his sight, his other senses begin to heighten and take over. The sense of smell, already incredibly strong, becomes even more acute. All other senses, such as hearing, will follow suit. That's not to say you won't need to provide extra care and attention to your friend. A positive attitude along with plenty of love and affection will only serve to ensure your dog continues to enjoy each and every day with you.

Seeing Is Not Always Believing

That's right, for a dog, sight ranks as the third most important sense behind smell and hearing. As sad as it may seem for you if your dog loses his vision, it will probably be more difficult for you to deal with than him. That's not to say it's easy for your dog, but even when your dog has perfect vision, he'd rather follow his nose than his eyes any day.

One mistake many people make is babying their blind dogs too much. After you've poured your dog's food, there's no need to carry him to it - instead allow him to find it on his own. When you allow your dog to utilize the senses he still has, it will instill confidence in him, and also provide just another reason for you to shower him with praise.

Forget What You've Heard

For dogs that lose their hearing, the world takes on a whole new look. Along with smell, your dog's vision will become extremely important. Dog's born without hearing are capable of learning a large list of commands through sign language. They are also incredibly perceptive at reading the body language of their owners, as well as other humans and animals - something dogs are naturally proficient in.

Even for dogs with hearing, teaching hand signals along with verbal commands is beneficial. A hand signal reinforces the verbal command, and will make coping with deafness much easier for your dog and you, should hearing loss begin to occur.

It has long been rumored that dogs with hearing loss can become irritable and unpredictable, and may react negatively when startled. However, using calm deliberate gestures and keeping a positive disposition toward your dog will help avoid these problems, and assure him that just because he can't hear you say it, there's still no doubt how much you love him.

Stay Strong for Your Friend

While deaf or blind dogs may require a bit more attention from you, most pet owners who have cared for such dogs consider it a blessing that has brought them closer than ever. There are some great resources on the web, and of course the great advice you'll be sure to receive from your vet to help you care for your special pet.

Remember, just because your pet can't see or hear you doesn't mean he won't feel how much you care for him.